Managing Fly Line

When embarking on a kayak, Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) or even a skiff -- and outfitted with a fly rod -- there are a few simple things you can do in advance that will take the fuss out of managing fly line. Anyone that has ever attempted fishing with a fly rod can attest that line management is as essential as good casting technique. You cannot have one without the other. When adding a third element, such as a kayak, this can become really challenging. Preparedness and organization are essential tools to a quality fly angler.

Simple Objects, Better Fishing

Kayaks in particular have many nooks and crannies, and tabs and accessories that can snag fly line. Skiffs have cleats, trolling motors and all kinds of stuff that can be especially challenging. There is nothing more frustrating than when you spend all morning stalking a fish and your fly line gets caught, stopping your presentation short of your target. When your line stops short, it will make a splash, more than likely spooking the fish.

For kayaks, guide recommend using a milk crate. A milk crate offers a lot of purposes to the kayak angler, but this special use of the crate is particularly well-suited for fly anglers. The low profile of the crate is ideal for the seated position in the kayak. SUP or skiff anglers can adapt the same concept with a simple five gallon bucket. The taller profile of the bucket is better for the standing position.

Shoreline Preparation: Dealing with All That Tackle

Pros places great emphasis on the significance of line management. Before you shove off on your grand expedition, take a few moments to ready your rod, reel and line. Pick a selection of flies. Your line, leader and tippet should be situated well beforehand.

Pull a length of line, leader and tippet through the guides and allow at least nine feet of fly line out of the rod tip to allow for a quick cast. Tie on your first fly using a small loop knot. Then, strip your fly line off the reel – about as much as your initial cast will require. After you strip your fly line off the reel you need to make a pile so that when you make your cast, the fly line will come off the top and not the bottom. If you do not re-stack it, it will ball up on you. So, coil the line into the crate or bucket so that it lies in sequence with how it will come forth with your cast. Align your leader and fly on top of your pile of fly line, and lastly, lie your fly rod down.

Cutting a notch in the center of the crate closest to your body allows you to align your fly rod with the kayak and rest it comfortably while paddling. Most importantly, your rod will be readily accessible when you spot your fish and are ready to make your presentation.Your fly line and leader should be tucked neatly inside of the crate, in the sequence it will be handled and casted. Therefore, when you are ready to pick your rod up to make your presentation, everything will be ready to roll.Now you can paddle out and find fish – worry free! No matter how good your casting mechanics are, if your line hits a cleat, the party is over.

Putting It In Motion

Being prepared before you get out there on those fish is essential to having a great day. Using these steps throughout your day makes an effective line management system. As you move around throughout your day, your line will be in its place. For a kayaker, the milk crate serves as a convenient system because you may wish to move one hundred yards down the shoreline because you saw fish busting. With this method, you can just leave your line in the crate or bucket, locked and loaded so you are ready for those fish you just saw.

Some final notes: If you have an older, flat-top style kayak, a wet towel draped over all snagging items will eliminate most of these troubling problems. Apply the same suggestions such as stacking your line to this method.

We hope these simple suggestions can help turn your basic kayak into a fly fishing vessel!

Julie DeStefano, Writer, The Online Fisherman
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